The Charlie Westlake memorial ride, and shorter Walter Pilkington memorial ride, organised by Bury Clarion and Bury CTC, are rides that have run for many years commemorating Bury Clarion riders Charlie and Walter. As the start from Bury is not too far from me, I decided to ride up and join the longer 100km ride. As I arrived I saw many familiar faces – Mike and Terry from many audaxes, the Saddleworth Clarion guys including Nephi, Tim and Steve, Jenny from Rochdale Tri, some guys from North Cheshire I’ve never met before and I think I saw the Cooksons guys too.
As we set off in groups of 10, the roads and air were damp but it wasn’t raining. A brisk southerly wind propelled us northwards through Ainsworth, Egerton and past Belmont. I was making good time, climbing pretty well and leaving most in my wake. Of course there is always someone to bring you back to earth with a bump, and so this time it was a lad from East Lancs RC who flew past me and left me trailing, unable to keep pace as the road headed up and then down into Tockholes and Darwen. I thought we were heading towards Ewood Park but we turned right at Uncle Jack’s rather than left, which then gave a steepish climb up to the roundabout at Guide, followed by a rapid descent with a vicious hairpin at the bottom.
Through Whalley the rain started to fall and the wind blew a little more. We turned into it at Clitheroe as we headed up the long drag out of Chatham and into “Lancashire’s Prettiest Village” of Downham. Not sure who votes for these sort of things but it is very nice, even with the wind and rain driving into my face.
I stopped briefly at Barley, but the queue at the cafe was too long (no bacon butty for me – energy bar instead) so I carried on to Barley Green and the Clarion Clubhouse. Built by the Independent Labour Party in the early 20th century, you can read about it here.
A mug of tea was the princely sum of 45p. And a large pint mug not much dearer! I had a chat with some visiting chaps from London Clarion and the National Clarion 1895 club – I’ll be back to visit in the summer I think.
Back on the road we were immediately faced with a steep climb before descending to Fence, through Burnley and past the Dingle Dome and then the long, draggy climb up towards Bacup – pretty difficult in the face of the wind and rain. Turning right before the summit, we descended into Waterfoot, although the headwind made progress slower than it should have been. A couple of Jaffa cakes at Terry’s control and it was down to Rawtenstall, up and over Edenfioeld and then an achingly slow and painful last climb into the wind up to finish at Owd Betts – with me rapidly running out of fuel and energy.
I rode home very slowly after checking in, absolutely starving and running on empty, and then ate my own bodyweight in cake.
Ride stats : 80 miles in 5hrs 11mins at 15.4mph average. 6,140ft of climbing, 3,434kcals energy used. Average HR 133bpm.